Meet The Dog That Talks
Many who have succumbed to participating in Gen Z dominated media throughout the pandemic have come across the TikTok videos from Bunny the Sheepadoodle and her human Alexis (@whataboutbunny on TikTok and Instagram). What’s so special about Bunny is that she speaks English. By using a series of circular buttons that produce different words, Bunny can communicate with her owner, articulating her various needs.
The debate over animals’ ability to comprehend human language is well worn, from debunked experiments teaching horses math, to the popularity of talking animals in television media, such as Disney Channel’s Dog With A Blog (or Mister Ed if you’re too old for all this).
Yet, Bunny’s adoption of alternative and augmentative communication devices (A.A.C.), used between humans to teach nonverbal communication, employs technology to bridge the gap between human language and canine abilities. Dogs, unlike chimps, do not have the necessary anatomy for sign language.
Through her now viral journey, Bunny’s command of “outside,” “walk,” “play” become increasingly more complex. She now uses approximately 100 buttons and seems to grasp broader ideas and abstract concepts not limited to her daily functional needs.
What gets lost in the neuroscience debate about the mechanisms of canine communication is the real relationship between humans and dogs. Bunny’s ability to articulate herself is incredibly significant to her relationship with her human Alexis, as it allows her to vocalize her very real needs and experiences. Whether or not Bunny is comprehending the different buttons on a linguistic/syntactic level is interesting, but her ability to inform Alexis that she is hungry, hurt or needs to go outside is just as significant to pet owners.
On the individual level, this A.A.C. assisted canine communication can help people better care for their favorite pup, which is a goal shared by all pet lovers. Imagine knowing exactly when your dog needs to go outside, feels hungry or wants to walk, while addressing these needs on their timeline. Or, if like Bunny, your pup could articulate a pain in their paw that may have gone unnoticed before.
Interested pup parents can purchase their own version of Bunny’s buttons and slowly build up commands starting from a single “outside” button. Whether or not your pup will interrupt you with full sentences is anyone’s guess, but these A.A.C. buttons interestingly highlight the forms of nonverbal communication that dog people already participate in every day. Whether or not your dog speaks English does not determine our ability to communicate. New pup parents quickly learn to read each wag of the tail, just as your dog knows exactly how to trick you into treats and cuddles.
At Dog’s Day Out, knowing when your pup is comfortable, excited or too excited is what we do best! Reading dogs’ body language is essential to making bathing and grooming feel like a spa day for your pup. To minimize overstimulation we have two, private Groom Rooms for full-service experiences. And while we have seven, self-service tubs—generously spaced more than six feet apart in our snazzy, large main room—we also accommodate dogs who prefer a private DIY wash and dry by their owner in our special Zen Den. Whatever your dirty dog’s needs, our experienced staff is here to help and consult!
Self-service dog bathing does not require a appointment— and now through March we are offering 22% OFF ALL DIY BATHS—so swing in to Dog’s Day Out soon!
To Learn More About Bunny: https://www.whataboutbunny.com/about
To Visit Bunny’s TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@whataboutbunny
The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian before changing or adding to your dog’s health routines.
— When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Ralph and Abbe Bernstein.